Salade Niçoise

A southern French classic

Salade Niçoise

Why is it that some of the simpler dishes are also often some of the most hotly contested? Everyone it seems has their own personal take on this southern French classic, so we have turned to the doyenne of French country cooking, Elizabeth David, for a delightfully deconstructed if rather vague version of this salad. While permutations could potentially be endless, freshness of ingredients is paramount!

'This is always served as an hors-d'oeuvre. The ingredients depend upon the season and what is available, but hard-boiled eggs, anchovy fillets, black olives and tomatoes, with garlic in the dressing are pretty well constant elements in what should be a rough country salad, rather than a fussy chef's concoction.

'Arrange a quartered lettuce* in your salad bowl. Add 2 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half, 2 very firm quartered tomatoes, not more than half a dozen anchovy fillets and 8 or 10 black olives, and if you like them, a few capers. Only when the salad is about to be eaten, mix it with the dressing, made from the best fruity olive oil you can lay hands on, tarragon vinegar, salt, pepper, a crushed clove of garlic. It is up to you to choose the other ingredients: tunny fish, cooked French beans, raw sliced red peppers, beetroot, potatoes, artichoke hearts. It depends on what is to come afterwards."

From the 2011 Penguin edition of French Provincial Cooking, first published 1960.

*A couple of little gem lettuces would work well.

Wine recommendation:
Whether you choose to stay in the south of France or head further afield for your wine choice, rosé has to be the classic accompaniment.

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